Tag Archives: civil partnerships

Summary of the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee Meeting – 11th February 2014

Chairman’s Announcements

David O’Mahony, a CU Council Member, was elected a member of the Committee.

Correspondence

The chairman had written to Jane Spencer at the Department of Health about the dangers of mitochondrial donations and the lack of an ethical framework. He asked for details of the advice received by the government. He received a reply from a senior official, saying there was an expert committee that had met three times and which advised that was no great danger in mitochondrial donation. There was no reply on the ethical basis. There was however a reference to a web site Catherine Sampson (sic). This is in fact a high powered scientific committee which has met twice and is due to meet again. Parliament in 2008 effectively cleared the way for mitochondrial donation. It was concluded it was safe for [laboratory animals] and should be tested on primates.  If used on humans it should be followed up for a long time; this is not in fact a green light. There has been a public consultation, now finished. It looks as if the government are determined to introduce mitochondrial donation. In 2008 the government had removed the right for those born via IVF et al to know the identity of their biological parents. This would mean the subjects of mitochondrial donation could not be informed of this. There had been no answer on the subject of ethics.  Britain has no medical ethics committee. “Consequential ethics” now seems popular, that is, the end justifies the means.  Any action on this taken by the Bishops’ Conference is to be advised to the Committee in due course.

MSP Vote on SSM 4th February 2014

This vote in the Scottish parliament to redefine marriage was carried by 105 votes to 18 with supporters of traditional marriage subject to verbal abuse. Amendments to protect teachers, adopters, fosterers etc. were all defeated. Scotland is becoming very nearly a totalitarian society. Anyone who disagrees with same sex marriage will be called intolerant, discriminatory and hateful and may lose their position in public bodies. Further, the Children and Young Person’s bill introduces a “Named Person” imposed by the state on every child without consent and without opt-out whose function, according to the Bill “cannot be carried out by a parent of the child or young person”. People are regarding developments in Scotland as a social revolution. People now live in fear of being overheard in a public place, being reported to the police and arrested, in some cases held overnight. It was agreed the CU should revive an active committee to support John Deighan in presenting parliamentary developments to the Catholic public. The guidelines for sex education were being revised; this should be resisted because current guidelines give parents a very strong position to demand to know what was being taught. The Labour party had tried to introduce sex education into the primary curriculum but had been defeated.

The Lunacek road map for LBGT rights has been overwhelmnigly accepted by the European Parliament.  It calls for the criminalisation of homophobia throughout Europe, for same sex marriage in every country, for teaching of homosexual practice to all children from which parents may not dissent and people who speak out against are to be silenced.

 

Plight of Syrian Refugees

The government has now agreed to take in a limited number of Syrian refugees.  A Syrian Catholic Bishop warned against the possibility of a mass exodus of educated Syrians, who would be needed during the process of reconstruction and development in the hopefully near future.

Assisted Dying

The Falconer Bill is not being put before the House of Lords, although Lord Falconer denied claims in a Times article (20th January) that his Bill was about euthanasia, rather it was about allowing those terminally ill patients wishing to die access to drugs to enable them to do so.  Belgium and Dutch law covers the non-terminally ill.   A Bill on Assisted Dying is likely to be presented in the next session of Parliament, with input from Living and Dying Well, which will hopefully be better drafted than the Belgian and Dutch versions.

Sir Edward Leigh MP – Further Questions on Abortion

The government reported there had been an error in their previous reply. Sir Edward therefore asked the following questions:

i.      When the problem on the extraction of data had first started and what the government intended to do about it.

ii.     Is there any data on how many women seeking abortion had actually met the authorising medical practitioner;

iii.   How many of these practitioners have training in mental health issues.

A ComRes poll had found that 95% of the public felt it was wrong for a woman to have an abortion without seeing doctor.

Westminster Hall Speech on Marriage – Sir Edward Leigh MP

This speech was well received by the press.  The speech was part of a Westminster Hall debate about strengthening relationships among couples.

Any Other Business

Injunctions to prevent Nuisance and Annoyance replacing ASBOs had been defeated by the Lords and replaced by Injunctions against causing Harassment, Alarm or Distress.

A UN committee on the Rights of the Child severely criticised the Holy See for concealing child abuse by priests. In fact responsibility here lies with diocesan bishops, not the Holy See, who must act in accordance with the civil law of the local jurisdiction which subsists to Canon Law.

Chairman’s New Year Message 2014

Robert Rigby

Robert Rigby, Chairman

As 2013 comes to an end we can reflect on quite a year.  We have a new Pope, and, nearer home, a  new Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh as well as several new Bishops in various dioceses across the United Kingdom.  All, it seems, is change.  Yet there are constants.  The pursuit of the Common Good in public life remains the core focus of the Catholic Union and in this regard it has been a busy year.  Much groundwork has begun in 2013 across the Committees and I would like to mention in particular, the newly-constituted Education Committee.  This Committee will be the vanguard of the Catholic Union Charitable Trust, organising seminars and lectures on Catholic education at all levels.  Stuart Sexton brings to the Chairman’s role a wealth of experience in both education and politics and will set the Committee on a good course.

The new charitable arm of the Catholic Union, the CUCT, will allow us to develop education based projects, whilst being an additional source of income within a charitable umbrella, which has not been possible up till now.  A new website for the CUCT is under construction and will link from the main Catholic Union website.

One major issue over the past year has been the Liverpool Care Pathway and its demise, following the recommendations contained in the Neuberger Report, published last summer.  Tony Cole, Philip Howard and others worked really hard to ensure that the full facts surrounding the LCP were available and understood.  It is, however crucially important that the LCP does not come back under another guise – such as presumed consent, or something similar.  The Catholic Union will continue to work with members in both Houses during the coming year to ensure that this can be avoided, as well as raising other issues of the day which affect our Catholic way of life.

Growing our membership base continues to be a priority.  Late in the autumn of 2013, we had an inaugural talk by Mike Henderson on the CU at the end of a lunchtime Mass at St Mary Moorfields in the City of London.  We hope to build on this in 2014, with more post Missam talks planned as well as the Summer Gathering at Ampleforth (25 – 27 July), together with a drinks reception for members and friends.

In his speech at the AGM, our President Lord Brennan encouraged us to undertake more activities, as well as producing more in the way of written materials.  We will be exploring this idea in greater detail over the coming months.  This combined with the work of the Outreach Committee in sourcing new donors for the work of the Catholic Union and the Catholic Union Charitable Trust, will enable us to develop a truly national reach, with an appropriate infrastructure and development plan over the next 5 to 10 years.

The Catholic Union has a great provenance and we have an opportunity to reinvigorate its activities.  It is because of you, our members, that we are able to move things forward and as always, I encourage you to get involved at whatever point you feel able.  We live in challenging times, but times that nevertheless present an opportunity to engage in the public square for the Common Good.

Finally may I take this opportunity to wish you and your families, a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Robert Rigby

 

 

Summary of the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee 17th December 2013

Chairman’s Announcements

Mrs Josephine Robinson, a former Chairman (sic) of the Association of Catholic Women was elected to the Committee.

Correspondence

A letter had been written to the Prime Minister and the Dept. of Health regarding the proposal to allow the production of embryos with two mothers and one father (hoping to prevent mitochondrial disease in the child). Two near identical replies had been received, referring to an imminent consultation and to a commission of “international experts” who said there was no concern for safety. However, IVF is known to increase the risk of birth defects, cancer and mental retardation. It is irresponsible to predict no risk with this even more radical procedure. The Chairman would write to Jeremy Hunt and to his own MP, questioning the safety of this procedure and seeking the identity of the “international experts”.

Same sex marriage in Scotland and Northern Ireland

The debate in the Scottish Parliament on this issue has been astonishingly abusive. It is expected that the SSM Bill will be approved by early March 2014. The Chairman is due to talk to the Political Officer of the Scottish Bishops conference. The Northern Ireland Assembly will not entertain SSM, but will accept as civil partners, those same sex couples married elsewhere in the UK.

Gender-based abortion

The Government stated that the law would be enforced, but has also said there are many grounds for seeking an abortion. It is unlikely that the Government will do anything in this regard.

Survey on Family Life

There had been 12,000 responses nationally to this Vatican survey. There was uncertainty about what the survey was intended to accomplish or what it was capable of accomplishing. It was thought it might be about how care is provided to people in family life, in particular, sacramental care from the Church.

Parliamentary Lobbying Bill

This Bill could obstruct free speech prior to General Elections. CAFOD is making a list of Part One Catholic lobbyists; Caritas Social Care of Part Two lobbyists with a view to joint approaches to the Government.

Extension of euthanasia in Belgium

The Belgian Parliament has passed legislation whereby children of 12 and below with terminal illness and unbearable pain could choose to die, or their parents and next of kin, where such consent is unavailable, could do so in their place When they are near to death, these children are claimed to increase in maturity. There were 1,132 cases of euthanasia in 2012; 25% up on 2011.We should note this lest attempts are made to introduce it in England. Other approaches to child euthanasia were the LCP and the Groningen protocol in the Netherlands.

Abortion on mental health grounds

The chairman had given a Parliamentary Question to Sir Edward Leigh. It said abortions were being carried out on Ground C (risk to the mother’s mental health) without mental health being assessed and by doctors not trained to assess mental health. There is a statement by the Academy of Royal Colleges that there is no difference to the mother’s mental health whether she has an abortion or gives birth What is currently going on is fraudulent.  It was suggested that the thrust of the argument should move away from time limits, to pointing out the number of fraudulent abortions being carried out in a local area, to make it real to people.  The late Phyllis Bowman (LIFE) used to say she would be perfectly content if the Abortion law were honoured. However, it would be necessary to convince juries that there is no risk to mental health. The CU and others should continue to raise awareness and press that Ground C be removed or at least observed.

Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

This Bill provides that if a nuisance or annoyance is caused to any person, they can apply for an Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (or IPNAS). The Christian Institute has pointed out this could conceivably cover carol singing, street preaching, children playing football in the street. Local Authorities, police and private security firms can also hand out Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) in order to restrict any activity deemed to have a “detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality”.  It was hoped that common sense would prevail in such cases.

Persecution of Christians – Westminster Hall Debate 3rd December

This debate was initiated by Jim Shannon MP (DUP). He said Christianity is the most persecuted religion at the present time. One Christian dies for their faith every eleven minutes. Persecution starts with discrimination in business, in civic life, education and politics. In some countries it was illegal to possess a Bible and there was forcible conversion to Islam. Sir Edward Leigh MP said that the worst crisis no one had ever heard of is in Pakistan. Western intervention could make things worse (lecturing by former colonial masters). However many countries persecuting Christians receive money from the UK Government.

Any other Business

Assisted Dying Bill – This had been shelved for now, but a more comprehensive version will be introduced in the next session of Parliament.  The Supreme Court is considering Article 8 rights to respect for private life for Nicklinson/Lamb.

Protection of the Vulnerable – NHS England had set up the LACDP (Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People) to advise the Secretary of State for Health by 6th January 2014, on what should replace the LCP. Dr Cole had met its chair, Dr Bee Wee, and had agreed that anyone entering hospital should have confidence that they would receive evidence-based treatment compassionately and ethically applied. “More Care Less Pathway” had been set up to counter it and seek a meeting with Norman Lamb MP, minister for health, to slow the process and give time for the counter views (now accepted by the BCEW) to be considered.

Marriage Statistics in the United Kingdom

CU Vice Chairman John Barrie writes:

Dear Members

It was brought to my attention only yesterday, Monday 9th December 2013, that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has a consultation which expires next Tuesday 17th December 2013, concerning the desirability of merging statistics for same sex couples and for opposite sex couples and for civil partnerships.

The document is entitled: Consultation Marriage Statistics Oct 2013

If you have a view on this topic you may care to complete and return the document to:

Lyn Hawkins, Consultations Co-ordinator  vsob@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

John

UPDATE : 17th December 2013

Statement on ONS marriage and divorce statistics consultation

ONS would like to thank all users who have contributed so far to the consultation‘User requirements for marriage, divorce and civil partnership statistics given the introduction of marriage of same sex couples‘. ONS would like to clarify that it is not proposing to produce only total figures for marriages where the distinction between same sex and opposite sex couples is not available. ONS do intend to publish marriage and divorce statistics in the future where figures for opposite sex and same sex couples are shown separately. ONS are consulting on the characteristics of these marriages/divorces which are of particular interest so that published statistics meet user requirements.

Summary of the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee, 18th June 2013

Chairman’s Announcements

The Chairman congratulated Sir Edward Leigh MP, upon his Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours earlier in the month. He also mentioned that he had been advised of the names of three Catholic MPs, Paul Maynard, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Sarah Teather whom it would be helpful to invite to PPAC meetings and/or receive the papers from these.

Liverpool Care Pathway

The Neuberger Report is expected in the third week of July. Baroness Neuberger had been taken aback by the volume of complaints from unhappy relatives. She is expected to be critical of the implementation and to recommend more monitoring, as well as the offer in every hospital to negotiate with the patient and/or relatives.

Commons and Lords Debate on Marriage (same sex couples) Bill

As this Bill has now been passed in the Lords, it is accepted that it will pass into law. The issue now is how best to put forward amendments that would best protect freedom of speech and belief for religious and other dissenters. Given the law’s poor drafting, some of these issues would only be settled in court.

Heterosexual Civil Partnerships

This had been put forward as an extension of equality. The Government has decided to consider it separately from the Marriage (same sex couples) Bill, possibly because in part because it could add billions to Government expenditure. The effect overall is to weaken the institution of marriage still further, and as such is not supported by the Committee.

Assisted Dying Bill (Lord Falconer)

This Bill is due to come up for First Reading in the autumn. The Royal College of Nursing is ambivalent towards the issue. An anonymous poll has reported that, in the Netherlands between 8 and 9% of doctors admitted to carrying out euthanasia on patients without their consent.

Homosexual bullying in Catholic Schools

It was agreed that the question of who should be invited to talk on this subject in schools is a matter for Governing bodies. Stonewall is in fact well-disposed towards Catholic schools who adopt zero tolerance towards bullying.

The case of the Scottish midwives

The Scottish Health Board has refused to accept the judgement in this matter and is going to take it to the Supreme Court. The final judgement will be of supreme importance to freedom of conscience.